Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bolt Action, Italy, summer of 1944
U.S. supply dump. MG team moving to set up in sandbag emplacement upper left

 
I played a game of Bolt Action with Mike Covell today. I like the game but haven't gotten around to playing it in about a year, so we lost some time relearning it as we went. Still enjoyed it though. Each side had 6 infantry squads supported by assorted heavy weapons. The Germans had one PZKW IV tank and the Americans had a Sherman with a 75mm gun plus an M3 halftrack.
German infantry advance on one objective, the American supply dump
There were three objectives, a ruined village held by the Germans on their left, a supply dump held by the Americans on their left and a bridge across a stream held by noone in the center.
U.S. tank & infantry move to capture the village
Both sides held reserves off table and fed them in as the situation dictated. The German tank supported by well positioned infantry quickly moved to control the bridge in the center. The Americans were unable to get any of their 3 bazooka teams in a position to strike at the tank without being shot down. The Germans also made a play for the supply dump on the American left, but were pinned down by a .30 cal machine gun ensconsed in a sandbag emplacement backed up by an infantry squad and a sniper team. Meanwhile, the Americans committed most of their reserves on the German held village. Sadly, at this point we ran out of time and had to cut the game short. A good time, but too much time lost relearning the rules. I have another Bolt Action game scheduled with Pete this weekend. We should be able to move it along quicker now that we are brushed up on the rules.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Amusing conversions

Just after Thanksgiving Wargames Factory held a Black Friday sale, so I had to get stuff that I didn't need. Shut up, you do it too. I did some conversions with the new toys. The first one is Middle Eastern insurgents made from U.S. WWII bodies, ancient Persian heads and weapons from the Survivors box. I made 22 of them, which should be enough for a skirmish game.
The second one was some survivors riding in the back of pickup trucks, for my zombie game. They were made from U.S. WWII bodies, weapons and heads from the survivor box. The trucks were purchased at my local CVS drug store.



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Zombie update


This is an account of my small, occasional zombie apocalypse campaign. Some of it is solo and some will be played out with one or more of my regular gaming opponents. We use the All Things Zombie rules. In the game described below, Striking Out, I play George and his group and gaming bud Mike plays a group of gang members. We start at opposite end of the board and both groups are searching for resources.

 

Recap

George and Kathy are in a relationship. They are spending a quiet weekend at his place in the little town of Midvale Ohio when the zombie apocalypse suddenly collapses society. They try to get out of town, but they lose their car to marauders.  They escape on foot and take refuge in a fire station in a rundown commercial district of Midvale. There they find other survivors, a middle aged man and two elderly women. The fire station is a solidly built, secure structure and they discover enough food to last the five of them about a month. They decide to dig in there and await rescue.

 

Striking out

After waiting for rescue for two days George and the others are starting to think no one is coming anytime soon. They have set containers on the roof to collect rainwater and there is enough food for a while, but the only thing moving in their vicinity is the occasional zombie shuffling aimlessly by. They have no radio or TV and no way of knowing when or if help is coming. Feeling they must do ‘something’, the group agrees to leave the two elderly women at the fire station while the rest of the group moves out to check some of the local businesses for resources. The zombies they have seen so far are few in number, slow and clumsy. They bring their firearms with them but agree to shoot only as a last resort to avoid drawing attention. Across the street there is a pedestrian square with strip mall buildings on three sides. They decide to start their search there.

                                   A view of the strip mall from the fire station
 

Unknown to the survivors, local ‘street entrepreneur’ Sugar Ray, his girlfriend Cheryl and his friend Trey have wandered into the area just a few blocks away on a similar mission. They are all that is left of the Albion Street Rangers gang that opened fire on a few zombies early in the outbreak and found the noise drew a horde of the things. The remaining gangers are now using stealth as their main defense, although they are well armed.  The gang’s first target is a small branch bank. They find the door locked and struggle quite a bit to get it open.   When the door finally gives way, an alarm goes off inside. Undaunted, they move in and find the branch manager barricaded in his office. He looks a bit like Woody Allen, but there is nothing funny about the gun he is holding. After a brief, fruitless negotiation the gangers back out of the bank empty handed, only to find several zombies, attracted by the alarm noise, moving slowly toward them.

 

Meanwhile, back at the strip mall, George and friends have forced their way into a Greek diner only to find it abandoned and thoroughly looted. They continue on to Office Max, where a grizzled, tough cowboy looking guy meets them at gunpoint. They offer to let him join up, but he is only interested in them moving on and closing the door behind them. The group moves on, quietly dispatching the few zombies wandering in the area. They can hear the bank alarm a couple of blocks away, but don’t know who or what has set it off. In one store front they find a man with a rifle and an unarmed elderly gentleman. The pair agree to join the group but their hiding place has been picked clean. While breaking the lock on the next store front a zombie comes out of the shadows and attacks the elderly man. The zombie is quickly put down by the others, but the old guy has been bitten and can’t walk on his own.

 

The gangers take out a couple of zombies blocking their path and move on to an insurance agency next to the bank. The only occupant is the receptionist. She has a pistol she found in her boss’s desk and is very interested in joining the gang. There is no usable loot in the office, so they decide to hit the small houses on the other side of the street. As they are leaving the insurance office a zombie attacks and bites Cheryl. She doesn’t seem too badly hurt, but is she infected? Time will tell. The bank alarm has stopped but there are still several zombies in the immediate vicinity that were drawn by the noise. The gang beats down some and evades others while making their way to the first house. They break in and find no one in residence, living or dead. They do, however, find a good stock of food and a set of car keys. There is no car in the driveway, but they keep the keys, hoping to find the vehicle. Climbing out the back window to avoid several zombies in the street out front, they make their way to the back of the second house on the street. There is a car in the driveway, but the keys they have don’t work in it. Before the apocalypse Cheryl had developed quite a knack for starting cars that weren’t hers without the keys, and she was able to get this one started without a problem. Since this foray into the commercial district has been a little busier than they expected, and Cheryl is starting to feel not too good because of the bite on her arm, the gang piles into the car and heads back to the house they have been hiding in since the trouble started. Sadly, later that night Cheryl dies from the infected bite and then gets back up. Sugar Ray deals with it. Their new friend from the Insurance Agency has proven herself a reliable soldier, and is welcomed into the group.

            George and Kathy check out the strip mall from the roof of the fire station
 

George and company have not been having a good day in the strip mall. The elderly man who has been bitten can’t keep up, so he and his friend move to the fountain in the center of the pedestrian square to wait while the rest of the group breaks into the next business, The Hair Zoo, to see what they might find. While nothing useful turns up they do encounter three zombies inside. A bloody battle ensues, leaving all three zombies dispatched and Jimmy, their friend from the fire station bitten and badly injured. George and Kathy make their way to the fountain, supporting Jimmy between them. When they arrive, they can see that the old man won’t last much longer and they fear that when he dies he won’t stay dead. The old man and his younger friend decide to go off on their own. George and Kathy help Jimmy back to the fire station. Later that evening they have to shoot him. George started the day confident that he could do what was necessary, but by the end of the day he was starting to doubt himself.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Saxon left wing advances
We played the Saxon/Viking game last weekend and this weekend. Last week Pete and Mark commanded the Vikings and I led the saxons to a crushing defeat. The Holy Dice Cup of St Leo was malfunctioning on that occasion. This week I commanded the Vikings in a win over Mike's Saxons.
The impending clash in the center

The rules are basically DBA mechanisms customized for 9th Century Europe and loaded with lots of Dark Ages 'chrome' . The elements (all infantry in this case) are twelve 28mm figures on a 6"x2" base. We had over 1500 figures in action and in both cases were able to play to a decisive finish in about 3 hours.
A panoramic view of the battlefield
The scale is one figure = one man. 1500 men was a pretty good size battle in the 9th Century. The 'chrome' includes a very large Viking Sea King with an extra factor in melee, Christian monks whose prayers occasionally allow the Saxons to reroll a bad die outcome, opportunities for leaders to stave off impending collapse with Heroic Action (or die trying) and a randomized organization phase at the start of the game that allows some wings of an army to be ready to step off before others. Each player starts with a hand of 5 cards drawn randomly from a deck of about 50. Each card has a brief, colorful description of an occurrance that will have a defined effect on morale, melee, movement or archery. When a card is played (or discarded if it isn't useful) the player draws a replacement to bring his hand back up to 5. The cards add a bit of extra period feel and another layer of decision making to the game.
No way is the Viking right wing going up that hill

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Battle for the Aw Shucks valley, Vietnam 1967

Last Wednesday Pete and I did a 15mm Vietnam game. We use the old AK47 rules modified for this period. The modifications give the US air mobility and off table artillery fire support, and give the NVA ambush capability, booby traps and snipers. Basically, when a US unit arrives on table they are placed wherever the commander likes (in clear terrain) via helicopter. When an NVA unit arrives it can appear anywhere, but not closer than 2d6 to any US unit. Artillery fire, booby traps, etc are handled by card draw.
       The Aw Shucks valley with Montagnard camp and airtrip

A Green Beret training team has joined with Montagnard tribesmen to build a camp astride an NVA infiltration route on the Cambodian border. The NVA has moved an infantry battalion into the valley to take out the camp. Montagnard scouts report the advancing enemy and a US Air Cav company is dispatched to relieve the camp.
Camp Zinderneuf
Pete commanded the NVA and managed to roll all of his units on the table at the start of the game. My dice were less cooperative and I started with only one rifle platoon plus (of course) the camp defenders. I chose to land my platoon in an open field next to the camp and Pete attacked them from both sides (the swine!).
A swarm of NVA rise from the elephant grass and pour fire into the LZ
Two companies of NVA attacked from the south and one from the north of the LZ a fourth company attacked the NW corner of the camp while their mortars supported from a nearby hill. The Air Cav platoon lost one of its Hueys to machine gun fire as it touched down but the rest of the troopers deployed quickly and fought back. The NVA tried to overrun the LZ with their superior numbers before the rest of the Air Cav showed up, but I was lucky in the card draws and was able to direct off board fire support onto the attackers which caused heavy casualties.
Air Cav, son. Air Mobile
My good fortune continued as 1st platoon and the heavy weapons (mortar) platoon entered the fray. The Mortars landed and deployed NE of the hill and opened an effective fire on the rear of the NVA attacking 2nd platoon on that side. 1st platoon landed behind the hill where the NVA mortars were positioned and started making its way up the slope.
The battle ended as I drew another artillery fire mission card and called it in on the NVA caught in the open. Seeing the writing on the wall, they departed the battlefield, standing not upon ceremony.
Overall, a simple and fun game. The NVA commander enjoyed a very lucky initial deployment, but that was the last break he caught. The event cards that might have hit the US with booby traps, etc never appeared and his firing dice were pretty cold.
 
 
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012


The section of the Interstate where George and Kathy lost their car was adjacent to the western end of Midvale. When they emerged from the woods they were at the edge of town. The Westside of Midvale had seen better days. To their right was a subsidized housing project and straight ahead was the old business district, which had suffered when the malls and big box stores came along. Down the street they could see two of those things that the news stories were calling zombies. They shuffled along as if in a daze and seemed to be unaware of the newcomers. George and Kathy slipped quietly across the street and took cover alongside the old brick fire station, out of sight of those shuffling horrors. Kathy had noticed the roly door at the front of the building was up about 3 ft. Getting to the door would require them to go back around the corner and possibly be spotted by those two zombies, but the thought of remaining out on the street caused a paralyzing fear to well up in George. “We’ve got to get off the street now or we’re dead” he whispered to Kathy. They braced themselves, slipped quickly around the corner and crawled under the door.
                                               The survivors approach the fire station
Some light filtered into the ground floor of the station through the windows and under the door but most of the space was lost in deep shadows. Their immediate concern was to get the roly door closed. With no electricity it wasn’t easy but the door was designed for backup manual operation so George and Kathy were able to force it down and lock it. While they were fumbling in the darkness to find the locks Kathy heard a shuffling noise from farther back in the big room. She turned and saw a grotesque figure that had once been a man limping toward her. She screamed and backed away as George turned and froze in horror. His movement caused the thing to notice him and it turned to move in his direction. George fumbled for his rifle but as he got a firm grip the thing was on him. He managed to get the rifle across his body between him and the ghoul. He shoved the thing back with the rifle and then brought the butt around and smashed its jaw. The thing staggered from the blow and then came on again. George countered with an adrenaline fueled blow to the monster’s forehead with his rifle butt. Its skull shattered, the zombie dropped to the floor and remained motionless.  

George dropped to his knees, cradling his rifle. He couldn’t stop shaking. When Kathy sat beside him and put her hand on his shoulder he flinched and, for a moment looked at her as if he didn’t recognize her. They stayed there for a while and gradually George recovered his composure. At last he offered a weak smile and said “I suppose we’d better make sure this place is secure”. The fire station was old and designed to house a single fire engine. The engine and crew were gone and something told the couple they weren’t coming back. The first floor was simply a large open truck bay. They carefully examined every corner of the space and found a well stocked first aid cabinet and vending machines for soft drinks and snacks. The doors were heavily built and secure. The windows were high enough that it seemed unlikely those shambling horrors could get through them. The building itself was a solidly built brick structure. “We could be safe here until help comes” said Kathy. George smiled thinly and put his arm around her shoulder. He was afraid to say it out loud but he was starting to wonder if there was any help coming.
                                            The shabby west side of Midvale, Ohio
They stood looking at the stairs to the second floor for a few minutes. Finally George took a deep breath and said “Let’s do this”. Rifle at the ready, he led the way up the stairs trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid the creaking noise that attended every footfall. Stopping at the top they scanned the area. The second floor was, like the first, a single open space. It was primarily designed as living space for on duty firemen. Sunlight provided some visibility and Kathy suddenly grabbed George’s arm and pointed to a far corner. George swung his rifle around and a heartbeat before he fired they heard a hoarse stage whispered “Wait!”. George’s hands were shaking and it took a conscious effort for him to lighten his finger’s pressure on the trigger. While they stood frozen in place the figures in the corner moved into the light. There stood a man about his own age holding a rifle and, huddled behind him, two elderly women.

“Uh, Jimmy, my name’s Jimmy” said the man as he slowly laid his rifle on the floor. “This is my mom Ellen and her neighbor Beth.” He took a step forward and George instinctively braced himself, causing the stranger to stop and put his hands up. They were shaking as much as George’s, which somehow helped him to relax a bit. He took a deep breath and lowered his rifle. Kathy stepped forward and introduced herself and, suddenly, except for the pistol in Kathy’s hand and the whispered tone, the group might have been neighbors talking at a backyard barbecue.

Jimmy’s group had arrived about a half hour before George and Kathy. They hadn’t seen any zombies in the street and had left the roly door partly open for light. They were checking out the first floor when they saw a pair of ragged legs appear outside the opening and halt facing their way. Apparently, the noise they had been carelessly making had attracted the creature’s attention. They made their way up the stairs as quickly and quietly as they could while the zombie tried to negotiate the low door opening. They heard the thing moving around down there and they heard the struggle that had attended George and Kathy’s arrival but they didn’t know who or what had arrived.
                                         Gangs compete with zombies to control the streets
The first and second floors of the fire station had been secured but there was still a third floor to be dealt with. After a brief discussion Kathy agreed to stay on the second floor to protect the two older women while George and Jimmy checked out the third. They ascended the stairs, George leading the way. When they had gone far enough to see the third floor they saw one zombie sitting on the floor with her back to them. Advancing carefully, they managed to avoid detection as the creature’s entire attention was devoted to a lump of raw meat it was ripping at with its teeth. George didn’t let himself think what that meat had once been. He swung down hard with his rifle butt and struck the thing on the collar bone. He heard a sickening sound that must have been the bone breaking as Jimmy’s rifle butt hit hard into the monster’s back. The thing snarled and tried to rise supported by its arm but it slipped and fell. George’s second strike landed squarely on its head and it slumped over and was still.

“The head! They go down when you smash their head!” said George. Jimmy had already started crossing the room to make sure there were no more of the things lurking in dark corners. The third floor, like the other two was a single open space. An old fashioned brass pole led through holes in the third and second floors to the first. George began a careful search while Jimmy called down through the hole to let the others know the situation. The third floor seemed to be used for storage. A quantity of canned food and bottled water were discovered, as well as heavy duty flashlights, batteries and an assortment of potentially useful hardware. It seemed they were safe, at least for now.

Friday, October 19, 2012

October is Horror game month here in Hilton. We've dusted off the All Things Zombie rules, which my usual gaming partners and I have only played a few times. After two games this month I'm getting comfortable with the rules. As a little amusement on the side I started tinkering with a small solo game on those evenings when normal people are off doing whatever they do. I'm not a big solo game fan because the social aspect of the game is missing. I decided to liven up the solo effort with a little blogging. The first chapter, presented below, is the back story for the two main characters, George and Kathy, two star crossed lovers trying not to be eaten by the dead at the end of the world. No pictures in chapter 1, but stay tuned. There is a nice miniature zombie town in my wargame space that will provide the scene of the action to come. Without further ado, here is...

You are what you eat
Living well in the zombie apocalypse

Chapter 1 The End of Everything

George is a 30 something confirmed bachelor. He has a decent job, a comfortable life and is set in his ways. Kathy, his girlfriend, is about 5 years younger, two years out of a bad marriage and hoping that George, a great guy, will make a commitment. George and Kathy commute to their jobs in Columbus, Ohio from their hometown of Midvale, an outer ring suburb.

It’s Friday evening and George is cooking dinner for Kathy at his place. They have a great dinner, listen to some jazz, talk a while, smoke some weed and then it’s off to bed. The next morning George sleeps in until 10, as is his custom on a weekend. He shuffles into the kitchen, sees Kathy watching TV in the living room.

“Hey babe, you want any breakfast?”

“George, come in here! You have to see this!”

“Bacon and eggs. One time offer.”

“George, you have to see this!”

George enters the living room and drops down on the couch next to Kathy. The local news station anchor is on wearing his tragic story face. It seems a riot overnight in an inner city neighborhood of Columbus has sent dozens of people to area hospitals with severe wounds. The disturbance is ongoing, the police are investigating and the mayor has requested assistance from the State Police. George and Kathy had planned on spending the day in Columbus attending the opening of an art exhibit, Kathy being something of a modern art enthusiast. George is relieved when Kathy suggests they stay home until things settle down in the city.

The story gets stranger with each passing hour:

11:00 AM: The victims of the riot are found to have severe bite wounds, and they are starting to die inexplicably.

Noon:  Similar outbreaks are reported in several other cities in Ohio.

The attackers seem to be in the grip of some sort of madness.

1PM:  State and local law enforcement is overwhelmed, and the Governor has activated the National Guard.

3PM: Reports of similar attacks are coming in from around the nation and overseas.

George goes through the house locking the doors and windows. When he returns to the living room he has his rifle, which he uses to go shooting with his friends at the gun club, and a 9mm pistol which he keeps for home defense. Kathy has never been comfortable with guns but George reassures her that it’s just a precaution. The problem, whatever it is, seems to be concentrated in the urban areas.

By 7PM the first incidents are reported in Midvale.

George and Kathy spend the evening switching between the local and national news as the crisis deepens. They can hear emergency vehicle sirens off in one direction or another on and off all evening. Unsubstantiated rumors coming through the news outlets are getting more bizarre by the hour. Government officials on the broadcasts urge everyone to stay where they are and await further instructions. By midnight the couple is exhausted by the tension. George makes another round of the windows and doors to make sure they are secure and then they go off to bed, taking the guns with them.

At about 6AM Kathy is awakened by a passing ambulance siren. She shakes George, a heavy sleeper, to wake him up and they return to the living room to see if things have gotten any better. The situation has, in fact, gotten worse. A state of national emergency and martial law has been declared. The Guard and Reserves have been ordered to report and the regular military is being deployed to support local authorities in restoring order. Reports of similar situations continue to come in from around the world.

The day is spent in an agony of indecision. Both are originally from out of state and attempts to reach family by phone all day are unsuccessful.   About mid day television and radio broadcasts are taken over by the emergency broadcast system. The government is now instructing people to go to the nearest evacuation center designated on their maps. They watch as the neighbors pack up and go and they see the utter chaos in their immediate vicinity. Reports are now coming in that the assailants are….dead! Incredibly, the dead are rising up and attacking the living! The nearest evacuation center to George’s home and several others in their vicinity are removed from the Emergency Broadcast System list without explanation. George and Kathy agree that their best bet is to wait this thing out in place. They fill the bathtub and all available containers with water. Food will be a problem. There isn’t a lot on hand and popping out to the supermarket doesn’t seem to be an option.

 At dusk a gang of looters in an old panel van starts hitting the houses at the other end of the street. George and Kathy push heavy furniture up against the doors and prepare to defend the house. Kathy gets a crash course in how to handle the pistol. As the looters are carrying a computer and some boxes out of a house a few doors down, a National Guard humvee turns the corner and bears down on them. The looters drop their burden and run for their van but they are cut down by a burst of machine gun fire from the humvee. The Guard vehicle slows down for a visual check of the looters. Satisfied that they are dead, the humvee speeds up and disappears around a corner. Thoroughly shaken, the couple wait out the rest of the night in front of the TV watching what appears to be the collapse of their world.  

At some point George and Kathy fall asleep on the couch. They awake the next morning to total silence. In the distance columns of smoke mark the horizon. Soon they can hear the sound of sporadic far off gunfire. The electricity isn’t working and the feeling of isolation is overwhelming. They decide to make a break for one of the evacuation centers that was still in operation the previous day. Once the decision is made they move with a desperate energy and purpose. They load George’s car with what food they have, the guns and ammunition, clothing and as much water as they can pour into a few empty soft drink bottles from the recycling bin. By mid morning they are on the road and driving toward they know not what.

Pulling on to the Interstate was a mistake. The road ahead is completely blocked with abandoned vehicles. George gets out and scouts a little way ahead but sees no way through. He returns to the car and plans to turn around and head back the way they came. While standing outside the car discussing their next move George and Kathy hear gunfire beyond a bend in the road behind them. George quickly grabs the guns and the plastic bag with the ammo out of the car. He and Kathy climb over the guard rail, slide down a steep embankment and sprint into the nearby woods. They wait there in the shadows for a few minutes until three pickup trucks pull up behind their vehicle. Armed men get out and start rummaging through the car and transferring the contents into their truck. From their hiding place they hear one of the men say ‘Get the gas’. They watch with horror as a looter slides under the car, punctures the gas tank and transfers the contents into a container with practiced efficiency. The other looters have already moved on to other nearby cars to repeat the process. George and Kathy quietly slip deeper into the woods with nothing but their weapons and the clothes on their backs.